by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
Although I’ve been in Seattle for the past week, thanks to longer than anticipated jet lag I still wake up at 5:30 a.m. regardless of when I go to bed. By the way, that’s 5:30 a.m. Eastern time, which is 2:30 in the morning here. So, unfortunately, have plenty of time as trying to get back to sleep to pay attention to the Republican primary in the U.S. Senate featuring declared candidate Congressman Luke Messer and all but declared candidate Todd Rokita. Yes, there are a few other candidates and a couple strong, potential outside challengers, but let’s just focus on Rokita and Messer.
- Depending on the polling it can be a pretty good indicator of what the universe looks like. Messer put out a poll last week of 400 likely Republican primary voters showing a one-point lead over Rokita in a head to head matchup, 27-26 with 48 percent undecided. When you throw in the other candidates, it’s 23-23, 9 percent other, 45 percent undecided.
- Not to be outdone, Rokita put out a poll this week of 500 likely Republican voters showing him with a nearly 8-point lead over Messer, in a head to head matchup, 28.2 to 20.4 percent, Undecided – 55 percent When you throw in the other candidates, it’s Rokita – 20.6, Messer – 13.6, Other – 10.8, Undecided – 51.4.
- And both camps apparently did test whether Messer’s wife, Jennifer’s job with the Town of Fishers and living with his family in D.C. would be an issue. You will be surprised to know that both thought bringing up that issue worked against the other candidate.
- Since Trump won Indiana by more than 20 points, it’s natural that candidates want to be tied to his agenda. Rokita put out a statement by the Trump Indiana team that the Congressman was a backer of the President when he was a candidate and while they were not formally endorsing him, Republican voters should keep that in mind going forward.
- Messer campaign chairman, Greg Pence, the Vice-President’s brother, says while he respects Team Trump, they point out that Rokita endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during last year’s primary.
- Overall, the two sides a virtually tied, meaning we could be in for a long, protracted, ground war.
- Rokita raised more than $1 million in the second quarter and had $2.3 million in cash on hand.
- Messer raised more than $578,000 in the second quarter and had more than $2 million in the bank.
So what does this all mean? Well, the good news is also the bad news for both candidates. Each side is relatively evenly matched, politically speaking, so no one is going away. Also, the only people paying close attention to this is the political class and guys like me. And while the state and national folks are privately expressing some concern about the infighting, no one is hitting the panic button just yet.
Of course, this could all change by the time I get back to Indiana on Tuesday.
Abdul is an attorney and the editor of IndyPolitics.Org. His views are his own, but he’s trying to change that.